EARLY - Trailing by 11 points with 4:40 remaining, the Comanche Indians scored 14 of the final 16 points to stun the Early Longhorns, 46-45, in District 6-3A boys basketball action Friday night.
Early (12-9, 2-4) never trailed until 11 seconds remained, when Comanche's (3-9, 2-3) Ryan Stephens sank a pair of free throws after being fouled while attempting the go-ahead field goal.
The Longhorns almost lost possession trying to get the ball across half-court, where head coach Daniel Price called timeout with three seconds left. On the inbounds play, Early got the ball in the hands of Timmy Smithson's whose layup attempt was off target, as was Ty Schafer's putback attempt at the buzzer.
Early was also plagued by 5 of 18 shooting at the free throw line, including missing the final six attempts of the game. Comanche, meanwhile, was able to rally at the line by draining 19 of 30 free throws including its last three and 9 of 14 in the fourth period.
Smithson led the Longhorns with 12 points followed by Kiah Laborn with nine, Brent Grooms with eight, Ethan Mitchell and Ty Schafer with six apiece and Nathan Mitchell with four points.
Stephens led Comanche with a dozen points trailed by Kasey Middleton with 10, Kade Mercer with nine, Bryce Hermesmeyer with seven, Cash Cook and Zachary Foster with three each and Dev Bhatka with two points.
Clinging to an 18-17 halftime lead after both teams struggled offensively over the initial two quarters, Smithson and Grooms caught fire as the third period began, combining for 14 points and a 32-23 Longhorn advantage with 4:58 left in the quarter.
Smithson drained a three-pointer to start the second half and Grooms added the next three points. Later, leading 26-23, Smithson and Grooms converted consecutive three-pointers to open Early's largest lead of the game to that point.
With 7:19 left, Comanche closed the gap to 37-32 on a three-pointer by Hermesmeyer, but Early fired back with the next six points - four from Schafer and two from Ethan Mitchell - to grab its largest lead, 43-32, with just under five minutes left.
But the Longhorns committed six of their 20 turnovers down the stretch while adding just two more points - a bucket by Nathan Mitchell that made the score 45-42 with 52 seconds left.
The Longhorns will attempt to bounce back at 8 p.m. Tuesday when Eastland visits.